Monday, November 28, 2011

ABC Classic FM C20 Top 100

imageWhatever else the merits of the ABC Classic FM top 100 of the 20th century, it certainly generated a lot of chatter, both online and on the radio waves.  Bearing in mind that this was at its heart a popularity contest, it was always going to generate plenty of sniffing material for the music snobs, while the time period guaranteed there’d be some nice modern atonal stuff to outrage the crusty old traditionalists.  There was also a distinct danger that some computer nerd/sci-fi/hacker  types would hijack the whole thing, writing scripts to generate fake MAC addresses and then automatically posting thousands of votes in favour of the Imperial March or whatever takes their fancy.   It would appear that this didn’t happen, unless of course the hackers were pushing the Elgar Cello Concerto, the eventual #1 pick.

At any rate, vigorous discussion started early, with the inclusion at #91 of a piece by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and then some theme music from Lord of the Rings (#90), and whether this should be considered to be classical music at all.  A similar debate arose around the question of Messiaen’s Turangalila, which had a bunch of people whinging about how such a god-awful piece (and it truly is god-awful) could get voted in to the top 100, with others jumping to Mess’s defence, claiming that it was our loss that we couldn’t hear what he was saying.

As the week wore on it naturally became easier to predict what pieces were yet to be played, and therefore what pieces weren’t going to be played.  This led to a fairly predictable chorus of “I just can’t believe that X’s piece Y hasn’t been played”.  Generally speaking I had a limited understanding of who X was, and no idea at all about his or her* piece Y, so the only surprise to me was that people genuinely thought these pieces would be selected in a public poll.

* Elena Kats-Chernin ensured the gender balance in the top 100 wasn’t a complete whitewash.

The final 5 pieces were played live by the ASO with Ben Northey conducting.  Given that we were told that four of the five pieces needed a soloist, the identity of the five pieces was pretty much a given, although the  order was not.  The standout turn of the evening for my money was Simon Tedeschi’s effort with Rhapsody in Blue, which was both energetic and inventive.

There’s been a fair bit said about the preponderance of pieces from the first half of the century (80% were written prior to 1950), and the lack of pieces written by contemporary composers. For comparative purposes I’ve compared the list with the 2012 programs of the major Australian orchestras, to test for local content, live music factor , and of course the repertoire safety index.

  ABC C20 Top 100 ACO 2012 Orchestra Avg 2012
Repertoire Safety Index 7.6 8.8 6.5
Live Music Factor 20% 17%


Australian Music Content 9% 10%


And the top 100 was:

100   ADAMS    Nixon in China
99    RAMIREZ    Misa Criolla
98    PROKOFIEV    Lieutenant Kije Suite
97    ADDINSELL    Warsaw Concerto
96    SHOSTAKOVICH    Symphony No.10 in E minor Op.93
95    TAVENER    Song for Athene
94    SIBELIUS    Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op105
93    ELGAR    Violin Concerto in B minor, Op 61
92    BRITTEN    Serenade for Tenor Horn & Strings
91    LLOYD WEBBER    A Requiem: Pie Jesu
90    SHORE    Lord of the Rings
89    LEHAR    The Merry Widow
88    ELGAR    Dream of Gerontius
87    O'BOYLE    Concerto for Didgeridoo
86    VAUGHAN WILLIAMS    Fantasia on Greensleeves
85    WEILL    The Threepenny Opera: Prologue, Act 1
84    VILLA-LOBOS    Bachianas Brazileiras No.5
83    RAVEL    Daphnis and Chloe
82    GLASS    Akhnaten
81    MESSIAEN    Turangalila Symphonie
80    GRAINGER    Irish Tune from County Derry
79    BARBER    Violin Concerto Op.14
78    ELGAR    Symphony No.1 in A flat Op.55
77    GERSHWIN    Piano Concerto in F
76    BERNSTEIN    Candide
75    STRAUSS, R    An Alpine Symphony Op 64
74    KORNGOLD    Violin Concerto in D, Op 35
73    MAHLER    Symphony No 6 in A Minor
72    GERSHWIN    An American in Paris
71    BRITTEN    A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
70    BRITTEN    A Ceremony of Carols
69    RACHMANINOV    Vespers Op. 37 (All Night Vigil)
68    JENKINS, K    The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace
67    DEBUSSY    Preludes
66    MAHLER    Symphony No.9 in D
65    PARRY    Jerusalem
64    RESPIGHI    Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome)
63    SCHOENBERG    Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night) Op.4
62    RAVEL    Piano Concerto in G
61    MAHLER    Symphony No.4 in G
60    SHOSTAKOVICH    Symphony No.7 in C Op.60, 'Leningrad'
59    BRITTEN    War Requiem
58    MAHLER    Symphony No.8 in E flat
57    PROKOFIEV    Symphony No.1 in D Op.25, 'Classical'
56    PART    Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
55    CANTELOUBE    Chants d'Auvergne (Songs of the Auvergne)
54    RAVEL    Pavane pour une infante defunte
53    RESPIGHI    Ancient Airs and Dances
52    PUCCINI    Turandot
51    SCULTHORPE    Kakadu
50    BRITTEN    Peter Grimes
49    EDWARDS, R    Dawn Mantras
48    SHOSTAKOVICH    Gadfly Suite
47    STRAVINSKY    Petrushka
46    SCULTHORPE    Small Town
45    EDWARDS, R    Violin Concerto 'Maninyas'
44    RACHMANINOV    Symphony No.2 in e minor Op.27
43    GLASS    Violin Concerto No.1
42    BARTOK    Concerto for Orchestra
41    MESSIAEN    Quatuor Pour Le Fin Du Temps
40    STRAUSS, R    Der Rosenkavalier, Op 59
39    KATS-CHERNIN    Wild Swans
38    PROKOFIEV    Peter and the Wolf, Op 67
37    RAVEL    String Quartet in F
36    MORRICONE    The Mission
35    STRAVINSKY    L'Oiseau de feu (The Firebird)
34    DEBUSSY    La Mer
33    MAHLER    Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth)
32    COPLAND    Fanfare for the Common Man
31    SHOSTAKOVICH    Symphony No.5 in d minor Op.47
30    SIBELIUS    Symphony No. 5
29    WESTLAKE    Antarctica Suite

28    PUCCINI    Tosca
27    SIBELIUS    Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 43
26    KHACHATURIAN    Spartacus
25    MAHLER    Symphony No.5 in c-sharp minor
24    GERSHWIN    Porgy and Bess
23    SIBELIUS    Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
22    RACHMANINOV    Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op.43
21    ELGAR    Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D
20    RAVEL    Bolero
19    RACHMANINOV    Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor Op.30
18    COPLAND    Appalachian Spring
17    PUCCINI    Madama Butterfly
16    PART    Spiegel Im Spiegel
15    SIBELIUS    Finlandia
14    GORECKI    Symphony No.3 Op.36, 'Sorrowful Songs'
13    BERNSTEIN    West Side Story
12    VAUGHAN WILLIAMS    Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
11    STRAUSS, R    Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs)
10    PROKOFIEV    Romeo and Juliet Op.64
9    STRAVINSKY    Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
8    ORFF    Carmina Burana
7    BARBER    Adagio For Strings
6    RODRIGO    Concierto de Aranjuez
5    RACHMANINOV    Piano Concerto No. 2
4    VAUGHAN WILLIAMS    The Lark Ascending
3    GERSHWIN    Rhapsody in Blue
2    HOLST    The Planets
1    ELGAR    Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85